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Sixth graders gain technology experience with Apple iPads

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer, Photographer

Sixth grade students in the Johnson County School district went high tech in the 2012-2013 school term, with each student being issued a brand new Apple iPad at the start of the school year.
The iPads were issued to the students in August after both the student and parent signed a user agreement that detailed the acceptable terms of use for the new technology. Students eagerly anticipated the arrival of their new iPad and both students and teachers agree that because of the new high tech learning aid, the curriculum has changed for the better.
The mission statement of the iPad Initiative is as follows: To prepare students for a twenty-first century environment; To increase productivity in the classroom and engage all students in learning; To make student-centered learning a priority; To increase students’ collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication skills. Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor, feels that the initiative is fulfilling its purpose, saying, “As a part of our commitment to embrace twenty-first century technology for education, the Johnson County School system has adopted the iPad for all sixth grade students as our 1:1 technology tool for teaching and learning. Our school system embraces the use of technology for our students. We are pleased to be amongst the trendsetting school districts in the nation.” Director of Schools, Morris Woodring reiterated Simcox’s opinion by saying, “Johnson County Schools is proud to have initiated a 1:1 iPad program for students and teachers in sixth grade in an effort to embrace twenty-first century skills.  This initiative is intended to provide all students in the sixth grade an opportunity to integrate technology into all portions of their educational experience. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment.” Elementary Supervisor, Angie Wills also expressed her satisfaction with the program thus far saying that a noticeable increase can be observed in the excitement level of students when it comes to learning.
The iPads are loaded with learning tools like the app, Study Island, which is an interactive learning experience that covers a wide array of topics. Students can also use the iPads to access educational websites like BrainPop. Mountain City Elementary sixth grade teacher, Trudy Kittle, says that the National Geographic app is a favorite in her classroom. Even the games on the iPad are educational like the app Stack the States, which focuses the geographical location of the states as well as state themed trivia.
According to many sixth grade teachers, the implementation of the iPad Initiative has been a breeze in terms of the children learning the new technology. Many of the teachers commented on how easy it is for this generation to pick up on ever-changing technologies, making a technology centered education a must in today’s society. The only major challenge reported by the teachers is that some sixth graders do not have Internet access at home, thereby limiting their iPad use after school and on the weekends. The teachers are currently working to devise a plan to navigate around this challenge by instructing students to take screen shots of important websites and reading assignments for later use offline.

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